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Assisted Living for Elderly Stroke Patients

Around 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year and it is the number one cause of long-term disability. So, what happens when a loved one has a stroke? In this article, we look at what a stroke is and how it affects people as well as what types of care options are available through assisted living facilities.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is a medical condition that results when part of the brain loses the flow of blood and becomes damaged or dies. A stroke occurs from a blood clot that plugs up the vessels that deliver blood to brain cells. A stroke is different from an aneurysm in that an aneurysm is a ruptured blood vessel due to high blood pressure or a weakened spot in an artery and may occur throughout the body.

Why are Elders Susceptible to Strokes?

Elderly people are more susceptible to strokes because they often have advanced heart conditions, such as atrial fibrillation, arterial disease, or blood clotting issues. Sometimes they have all of these medical conditions. Age, diet, fitness, genetics are all contributors to strokes and the older we become, the greater the risk.

A stroke generally damages one or more parts of the brain and the effect usually causes one-sided body weakness or paralysis. What that means for most people is decreased mobility. A stroke also causes a variety of other issues, such as incontinence. The effects of a stroke are different for each person and so are the medical needs following a stroke.

What Assisted Living Options Do Elderly Stroke Patients Have?

Some assisted living facilities have strict mobility guidelines and may require that the senior has independent mobility – They are able to walk on their own or transfer without assistance. This means that those with limited or impaired mobility may not qualify to live in a traditional assisted living facility. Some assisted living facilities offer advanced care services such as help with meal preparation or nutrition and help with the “Activities of Daily Living” (ADLs). This level of care is usually handled by a home health aide or for non-medical care, by a companion.

An assisted living facility may help with:

  • Preparation of meals
  • Help with dementia management
  • Bathing, toileting, incontinence care, dressing, and ADLs
  • Management of medication
  • etc.

It is important to understand that 20 years ago, most stroke victims were elderly. In today's healthcare environment, stroke victims can be young – 40's and 50's or younger. It is important to also realize that one of the greatest benefits of assisted living is its positive impact on the social aspects of living and healing. So, in addition to the physical care that an assisted living can provide to a stroke victim, it can also help lift the spirit which is a vital part of healing and well being.

How is Assisted Living for Stroke Patients Different?

In most assisted living facilities that handle and care for people who have suffered a stroke, is the knowledge and training that allows them to care for these people properly. As mentioned earlier, a stroke affects each of us differently and that makes it difficult to provide a blanket-type answer to many of these questions.

What families should focus on is both the physical and social care that the facility can provide.

What Services are Offered at Assisted Living Facilities that Cater to Stroke Patients?

Recovery from a stroke is usually a difficult and challenging process. One of the greatest things that an assisted living facility can offer a stroke patient is the tangible goal of regaining their independence. That is different from saying that the facility can cure a stroke victim. However, the living arrangement, added care, and non-care services allow the patient to focus on recovery.

  • A Balanced Physical and Social Atmosphere – Amenities often include access to professional healthcare providers such as physical therapist, speech therapists, and even respiratory therapists as well as doctors and nurses. So, rather than be in an inpatient facility, the patient lives in a home environment with access to advanced healthcare practitioners on site or via a transportation system that is able to handle the safe transport of people with limited mobility.
  • Therapies and Doctors on Site – There may also be access to mental health professionals and a social environment that is designed to uplift the spirit and empower those who face the challenges of recovering from a stroke. These activities might include programs such as yoga, meditation, and group exercise classes designed to help with stroke recovery.
  • Advanced Personal Care – Expect care providers to be skilled and trained in working with people who have had a stroke. This includes the use of mechanical lifts.
  • Dietary Needs – Most assisted living facilities have a registered dietitian on staff and the food is prepared to meet the physical and nutritional needs of each patient.

How Do you Pay for Assisted Living for Elderly Stroke Patients?

Sometimes Medicare will cover at least some portion of the costs associated with assisted living or the services needed by someone who has had a stroke. This is not always the case and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Service that might be covered include therapies, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapies or psychiatric therapies or visits.

  • Medicaid – The Medicaid system varies from one state to the next. Not every state's Medicaid program covers assisted living. Again, it is important to check with your state's system and see. It is also important to ask them if there are specific services that they might cover such as therapies.
  • Long Term Care InsuranceLong term care insurance is also an option for those people who have a policy. Not all policies cover the same level of cares and some are more restrictive than are others. Like both Medicare and Medicaid, it is important to ask them about other types of services they will cover, even if they do not pay for transitional assisted living.

There are many options for care and living for people who have suffered a stroke. The main goal should always be to match the patients needs with the type of facility that offers those needs. Not every stroke patient will thrive in an assisted living facility. Some people do much better at a skilled nursing facility, while others will excel and thrive at an assisted living facility.

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